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Leon County Schools boost starting salary for teachers

With a need to fill open positions in Leon County
Posted at 7:19 PM, Feb 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-27 19:19:56-05

LEON COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — Teachers in Leon County Schools will be starting next year with a salary raise after the school board unanimously approved it and say they want to continue bumping up their paychecks each year.

WTXL ABC 27's Valerie Mills explains how Superintendent Rocky Hanna hopes this new push will help attract teachers.

With a need to fill open positions in Leon County classrooms, the school board approved $4.5 million toward teachers' pay.

"We have a teacher crisis. We started school this year with substitute teachers because we could not find qualified teachers," said Hanna.

Superintendent Hanna says the district needs to increase salaries to attract teachers and keep them in classrooms.

"They know they can go across state lines to Georgia and make ten thousand dollars more than they do in Florida. We have to be able to compete," said Hanna.

According to the Georgia Department of Education, teachers in the Peach State schools earn an average salary of $46,000.

Leon County teachers currently start at $36,000. But starting next year they will see an increase of $1,500 boost to their starting salary.

Some teachers are happy to see progress but say there still needs to be a greater incentive for people to choose this career path.

"There are fewer applicants that are coming into the area and that was part of the reason for making sure beginning teacher pay was a little bit more attractive," said Scott Mazur, President of Leon Classroom Teachers Association. "At the same time though, once people come in, if we don't have salary increases to keep them, then there's a high turnover."

Mazur says Florida ranks 45th in the country for the amount of money put into schools. He hopes we continue seeing a salary boost from year to year, getting more teachers on board and in the classrooms.

"My goal is to get that $40,000 beginning teacher salary by the end of my term," said Hanna.

Thursday night from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., the Leon Classroom Teachers Association is hosting a community conversation to share ideas about improving education with educators, parents and citizens.